[hel-uh-bawr, -bohr]


any of several plants of the genus Helleborus, of the buttercup family, having basal leaves and clusters of flowers, especially H. niger, the Christmas rose.
any of various plants of the genus Veratrum.Compare false hellebore.
any of several poisonous or medicinal substances obtained from these plants.

Origin of hellebore

1555–65; < Greek helléboros; replacing earlier ellebor(e), Middle English el(l)bre, etc. < Latin elleborus < Greek
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for hellebore

Historical Examples of hellebore

  • But she does not go unprovided; she has hellebore at the bottom of the cup.

    Essays, Second Series

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • She needs six grains of hellebore, Monsieur; her brain is turned.



  • It has received the immedicable wound; no hellebore can cure it.

  • Some cause violent pain, as colchicum, hellebore, and aconite.

    The Swiss Family Robinson

    Johann David Wyss

  • He knew his own defect; and purposed going through a course of hellebore.

    The Caesars

    Thomas de Quincey

British Dictionary definitions for hellebore



any plant of the Eurasian ranunculaceous genus Helleborus, esp H. niger (black hellebore), typically having showy flowers and poisonous partsSee also Christmas rose
any of various liliaceous plants of the N temperate genus Veratrum, esp V. album, that have greenish flowers and yield alkaloids used in the treatment of heart disease

Word Origin for hellebore

C14: from Greek helleboros, of uncertain origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for hellebore

late 14c., from Old French ellebore, from Latin elleborus, from Greek helleboros, perhaps meaning "plant eaten by fawns," from Greek ellos/hellos "fawn" + bora "food of beasts," from bibroskein "to eat," from PIE root *gwere- "to swallow." Among the ancients, the name given to various plants of both poisonous and medicinal qualities, reputed to cure madness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper